Restaurants Need to Make Eating Veg Easy Peas-y
New figures released today reveal that 44% of UK adults want to eat more veg when eating out. More vegetable options on menus (34%) and lower prices for meals including veg (27%) when eating out were among the key enablers to people eating more vegetables.
A YouGov survey commissioned by food think tank The Food Foundation show 79% of people would like to be eating more veg in their diet. On average we are eating out almost three times a week, but from those three meals we are getting little more than half a portion of veg (4). British consumers are not making up for this lack of veg at home as research released last month by the think tank showed we are only buying a third of the veg we should in our weekly shop. According to recent Government dietary advice we should now be eating 7 portions of fruit and veg each day.
These findings are released in conjunction with a new compendium of food service resources. This collection of evidence driven approaches includes research on how menu positioning can increase sales of veg-forward dishes. Also included are guidelines on normalising veg to increase sales and making veg or salad the default accompaniment. The examples suggest that making veg the easy choice will help increase consumption.
These findings build on a growing body of evidence showing there is increasing demand for more plant based dishes, with recent research from both Mintel and the Eating Better Alliance revealing a rise the ‘flexitarian’ diet. The Mintel study reported 28% of Brits are reducing their meat consumption and a further 14% of adults say they’re interested in limiting their consumption in the future. Eating more veg could help reduce the 20,000 premature deaths each year that are linked to low levels of veg consumption (6).
Anna Taylor of the Food Foundation says: “Restaurants are facing tough trading conditions at the moment but they could be missing a trick here. This research, alongside recent trend data, clearly shows that consumers want to see more vegetables on the menu when they’re eating out. Putting more veg on customers’ plates is not just good for consumer health and the environment, but potentially good for business too. Moving enticing veg options up the menu and incorporating veg into meals rather than as an expensive side dish can help customers get the extra veg they want.”
Andrew Stephen, CEO at the Sustainable Restaurant Association says: “These findings come as absolutely no surprise as they are consistent with a number of recent surveys that bear witness to the public’s growing appetite for a wider, more delicious selection of vegetable based dishes on restaurant menus. Many chefs and restaurateurs have grasped the nettle and are meeting this increase in demand that has all the hallmarks of an irreversible movement rather than a passing trend. We would urge all restaurants to #FlipTheMenu and serve More Veg and Better Meat”
Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, British Hospitality Association said “This is a clear opportunity for businesses to help consumers increase their vegetable consumption and make it easier for them to choose healthier options. Earlier this year, the BHA published a comprehensive Industry Nutrition Guide to help chefs and catering managers in the UK provide healthier choices for customers. The guide sets out how chefs can reduce calories, salt, sugar and fat whilst increasing fibre, fruit and vegetables in the meals that they prepare.”
Stuart Cauldwell, Head Chef at Roast: “Peas Please is a great project and anything that encourages children to eat more vegetables has my vote. I spend a lot of time working with schools encouraging healthy diets and we are actively promoting more vegetable-led dishes on our menus at Roast.”
This research is part of a wider project, entitled Peas Please, from the Food Foundation, WWF, Nourish Scotland and Food Cardiff who are working together to increase the UK’s vegetable consumption. The project is calling on restaurants, government and other business in the veg supply chain to pledge commitments at a Veg Summit on October 24th to help increase the amount of veg we all eat.